Monday, January 19, 2009

Sundance 2009: Cold Clones and Returning Souls

[Film Fest] This could be the Sundance of the surreal metaphysical science-fiction film. When I watched Kanji Nakajima's World Dramatic Competition film The Clone Returns Home, I didn't imagine I'd see many films like it during the festival. But at least two Sundance films beg comparison to it.

Scott already wrote about the commonalities between Moon and The Clone Returns Home, although I didn't read his spoiler-warned blog entry in its entirety because I haven't seen Moon yet. I did, however, see Sophie Barthes' Cold Souls, and I couldn't get its Japanese counterpart out of my mind.

A poetic and philosophical meditation, the beautifully photographed Clone spends much of its second half pondering a cloned man's connection with his soul. What is he like without it? What about when it's just lingering around outside of him?

Barthes' film touches on the same questions. It's sure to earn comparisons to Being John Malkovich for its humorous existential sci-fi and the casting of a well-regarded actor—this time Paul Giamatti—as himself. It's also unique and memorable in its own right. The on-screen character of Giamatti feels twisted up inside, so he decides to have his soul removed and put into storage, based on reports that it will make him happier. But the bizarre procedure of course creates greater conflicts of despair and identity. Maybe next time Giamatti will try getting a clone instead. (Jeremy Mathews)

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